In the state of Michigan, hunting season really is a year-round affair. It is a sport that drove the development of Michigan on the path to statehood. Today, both peninsulas offer up about 8 million acres of public hunting land, which have in-state and out-of-state hunters traveling to the best—and often scenic—spots. That’s why the Great Lakes State is consistently ranked as one the nation’s best hunting states for a number of species (in terms of success rates).
Benefits of hunting in Michigan
First and foremost, Michigan hunters are conservationists in their own right, deeply understanding the fragile environment and the need to protect it from destructive forces. Organizations like Ducks Unlimited Michigan and the Michigan Wild Turkey Hunters Association channel money raised from licensing (and other fundraising efforts) to restore dry and wetland habitats. This in turn provides more public land for humans and animals to use throughout the seasons.
Other advantages include:
- Economy growth: Aside from money raised to protect habitats, hunting generates $2.3 billion in annual economic impact, plus an additional $123.8 million in leisure and travel. This makes Michigan the #3 hunting state in the U.S.
- Wildlife protection: Michigan’s white-tailed deer population is plentiful. Deer overpopulation can cause long-term damage to crops and forest products (like the Canada yew shrub and sugar maple trees), habitats for other local species. Hunting in certain areas can limit deer-vehicle collisions and rein in issues like bovine tuberculosis and brain worms. Certain wolf populations are controlled for similar reasons.
- Health benefits: Obviously, there’s a lot of exercise involved with outdoor sports. Beyond that, hunters report therapeutic benefits of bonding with friends and family and getting away from the chaos of everyday life. When it comes to the game, most Michigan species are lean proteins, low in fat—a big improvement over fast food dinners!
Where to go to hunt
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has a handy calendar showing all the different Michigan hunting seasons, from elk season (a few weeks in early autumn and Dec 9-17) to quail (Oct 20 – Nov 14). Beyond that, the state has many acclaimed spots to explore, with the best being:
- Michigan’s “thumb”: For pheasant enthusiasts, Huron, Tuscola and Sanilac Counties are hotspots for the male birds. The Verona State Game Area is actively working with farmers and landowners to further expand pheasant habitats as a part of a larger grassland management project.
- Michigan’s “fingertips”: The Northern Lower Peninsula is arguably the best place to track down white-tailed deer thanks to its abundance of state forests. It’s also a top area for morel mushroom hunting come spring!
- The Upper Peninsula: If you’re looking for a more rugged and challenging setting, head north. The southern portions of the U.P. have higher deer numbers thanks to its agriculture, while the northern half has a higher giant buck population.
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